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GLENDALE, Ariz. – This was after Marshawn Lynch finished the best run ever by a man with an upset tummy. In celebration, the entire Seahawks team ran into the end zone and jumped around in a circle, the players dancing as if they were listening to their favorite song.

University of Phoenix Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals’ home, had turned into a stage for the Seahawks’ grandest performance of the season. The clock showed 10:14 remaining in the game, but it was over. The partying had begun. As the Seahawks expressed their enthusiasm, they personified all the reasons they’re back in this glorious place – passion, joy, camaraderie, and sincere appreciation of each other.

“Pure joy,” cornerback Richard Sherman said of the moment. “Pure joy. Selflessness. You’re so genuinely excited for whoever’s success. That kind of run, it’s historic. You may never see a run like that again. We were showing our respect for that kind of history being made.”

On Sunday, the Seahawks turned a rugged NFC West showdown into a rout, scoring three touchdowns in the final quarter to beat Arizona 35-6. It was their fifth straight victory, all against teams that had an above .500 record when the Seahawks played them. As a result, the Seahawks (11-4) — who clinched a playoff berth Sunday — can win the NFC West and should capture the No. 1 seed in the entire NFC with a victory over St. Louis in the season finale.

It’s essentially the same spot the Seahawks were in entering Week 17 last season, but that’s about the only thing similar to 2013. It has been a long, strange, arduous road to regain control. But here they are again, making offenses look clueless, converting big plays all over the field and competing with incredible passion.

The Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL, and they’re starting to look like the best again. And finally, after weeks of chasing Arizona, the Seahawks have the inside track to win the division.

At this time a year ago, after Arizona came to CenturyLink Field and beat the Seahawks 17-10 just days before Christmas, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made a declaration inside a boisterous visitor’s locker room.

“There’s a new sheriff in town,” Arians told his team.

Well, the old sheriff got his job back awfully quick.

The Cardinals had the chance Sunday to make Arians’ year-old claim more than just breathless banter. They were looking to clinch the NFC West division title and dispatch the defending Super Bowl champion in the process. But with the Seahawks defense performing at a legendary level and some sucker named Ryan Lindley playing quarterback for a depleted Arizona offense, this wasn’t the day to unseat Seattle.

Opponents didn’t beat the Seahawks enough while they were down. They were vulnerable at 3-3. They were in trouble at 6-4. But now, they’re a beast again.

“We’re very confident,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Very confident. It’s scary for the opponent.”

How scary? Michael Bennett has a colorful take.

“They don’t have sex that week,” the defensive lineman said of opponents. “They don’t watch no ‘Homeland.’ They don’t do none of that stuff. They focus on playing the Seahawks.”

The attention to detail didn’t help the Cardinals. The Seahawks hadn’t beaten anyone quite like this all season. The game turned into a ridiculous mismatch. The Seahawks gained a franchise-record 596 yards; the Cardinals managed just 216. The Seahawks had three plays over 50 yards — a 55-yard run by Russell Wilson, an 80-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to tight end Luke Willson and the 79-yard touchdown run by Lynch.

“They’re playing awesome football,” Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “You can’t take nothing away from that ballclub.”

The Seahawks aren’t playing flawless football. Penalties remain a concern; they were flagged for 11 on Sunday, 10 of them in the first half. Kicker Steven Hauschka, who had made 29 of 32 field-goal attempts entering the game, missed three kicks. Lynch didn’t play the first quarter because of an upset stomach.

But over the past five games, even when the Seahawks are laboring through a contest or beating themselves with erratic play, the game is always within their grasp. And when they figure it out, they roll.

“That’s about as much fun as you can have playing NFL football in the regular season,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “That was really an exciting night of football against a really good team, an extraordinarily tough defense. Our guys found a way to do all the things we had hoped to do.”

The Seahawks don’t plan on slowing down, either. Asked how far the Seahawks can take this hot streak, Wagner said, “As far as we want to take it.”

That caused linebacker Bruce Irvin to exclaim: “We’ll be back. We’ll be back right here.”

Super Bowl XLIX is Feb. 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The rest of the NFC is forewarned: It’s going to take a lot of abstinence to beat the Seahawks.

What if the playoffs started today?
The Seahawks would be the top seed in the NFC and have a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs.
Top 2 AFC teams Seed W-L
x-Patriots 1 12-3
x-Broncos 2 11-3
Top 2 NFC teams Seed W-L
x-Seahawks 1 11-4
x-Lions 2 11-4
Other AFC playoff teams Seed W-L
Bengals 3 9-4-1
x-Colts 4 10-5
x-Steelers 5 10-5
Chargers 6 9-6
Other NFC playoff teams Seed W-L
x- Cowboys 3 11-4
Panthers 4 6-8-1
x-Packers 5 11-4
x-Cardinals 6 11-4
Source:; x-clinched playoff spot
Playoff picture after loss to the Chiefs
The Seahawks were on the outside looking in after Seattle’s 24-20 loss to Kansas City on Nov. 17, with a 6-4 record and an eighth seed.
Top 2 AFC teams Seed W-L
Patriots 1 8-2
Broncos 2 7-3
Top 2 NFC teams Seed W-L
Cardinals 1 9-1
Lions 2 7-3
Other AFC playoff teams Seed W-L
Bengals 3 6-3-1
Colts 4 6-4
Chiefs 5 7-3
Dolphins 6 6-4
Other NFC playoff teams Seed W-L
Eagles 3 7-3
Falcons 4 4-6
Packers 5 7-3
Cowboys 6 7-3

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or On Twitter @JerryBrewer